Poetry, Plants and Nature, expressions of The Word and of Art, are the antidote to the dull and dreary tyranny of prose, grammar, dictionaries, conformity, and compartmentalized conventional education…

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.
A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.
There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you
some violets, but they withered all when my father
died: they say he made a good end,–
For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.

An Interview with Michael Longley, onbeing.org:

Poetry is useless and yet invaluable

I have said that where poems come from, I have no idea. And if I have a plan, if I think, “I’d love to write a poem about that,” and I do a bit of homework on the subject, it doesn’t work at all. I’ve got to be taken by surprise.

Somebody was complaining within earshot of being under-recognized, and John turned to me, and he says, “If you write poetry, it’s your own fault.”

Religious poetry: religion, from Latin religare, to bind fast or connect.

“If prose is a river, poetry is a fountain.” In other words, poetry uses language in a way that’s free-flowing, and at the same time, shapely. And I do like the word “shape.”

“I get down on my knees and do what must be done, and kiss Achilles hand, the killer of my son.“


(Achillea/Yarrow-Heroic, Confident but Modest-what Achilles the plant’s namesake lacked until Priam humbled him)

Stanley Kunitz, and he was 100 when I went to see him, beautiful old man. And he wrote in the preface to his collected poems, which I’d recommend to anyone, that form was a way of conserving energy. Isn’t that wonderful? He said the energy soon leaks out of an ill-made work of art.

I think what poetry does is it uses words at their most precise and their most suggestive. And one word out of place, and the poem’s dead. It’s shocking, but that’s true.

… I’ve loved it for years and years — is English critic, Cyril Connolly, and he compared the arts to a little gland in the body, like the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the spine. And it seems very small and unimportant, but when it’s removed, the body dies

Accept compliments but don’t inhale

The Ice-Cream Man

Rum and raisin, vanilla, butterscotch, walnut, peach:
You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before
They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road
And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.
I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren
I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,
Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,
Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,
Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,
Yarrow, lady’s bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.

“Who was it who suggested that the opposite of war / Is not so much peace as civilisation? / He knew / Our assassinated Catholic greengrocer who died / At Christmas in the arms of our Methodist minister, / And our ice-cream man whose continuing requiem / Is the twenty-one flavors children have by heart. / Our cobbler mends shoes for everybody; our butcher / Blends into his best sausages leeks, garlic, honey; / Our corner shop sells everything from bread to kindling. / Who can bring peace to people who are not civilized? / All of these people, alive or dead, are civilized.”


Let none despise the merry, merry cries

Here’s fine rosemary, sage and thyme
Come, buy my ground-ivy
Here’s featherfew, gilliflowers and rue

Come, buy my knotted marjorum, ho !
Come, buy my mint, my fine green mint
Here’s fine lavender for your cloaths
Here’s parsley, and winter-savory
And heartsease, which all do choose
Here’s balm and hyssop and cinquefoil
All fine herbs, it is well known
Let none despise the merry, merry cries
Of famous London Town

Here’s penny royal and marygolds
Come, buy my nettle-tops
Here’s water-cresses and scurvy-grass
Come, buy my sage, of virtue, ho !
Come, buy my wormwood and mugwort
Here’s all fine herbs of every sort
Here’s southernwood that’s very good
Dandelion and houseleek
Here’s dragon’s tongue and wood sorrel
With bear’s-foot and horehound
Let none despise the merry, merry cries
Of famous London Town


Dandelion – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness . . . ” Matt. 5:8

Although dandelions have both medicinal and food value they are despised by homeowners and gardeners. They are poisoned, ripped from the earth, and cursed yet they continue to flourish.